Tag: Old Testament

Reding the Bible in a week

On occasion the Holy Spirit, whose operations are mysterious no doubt, taps you on the shoulder. The tap is often a kind way of saying you need to do something different or correctly. This occurred when on a spiritual retreat. I wanted to try something different by reading through the whole Bible in one week. Right up from I got a tap on the shoulder that I was reading it wrong. Here are some things that stood out when going through the whole book.

You’re likely not the hero
We like to identify with the protagonist in the story, and not the mob. Chances are very good that we’d be like the mob. Reading through the Bible will break you and it will challenge whatever perspective of the Bible you hold. Rather than asking how people in the Bible could make the mistakes they make, ask yourself how you could make those same mistakes. Why? Because we do. The Bible was written to people like you in me. Different time and culture, but many of the same challenges.

Scope and Sequence
In reading through the Bible in a week, aim to see the big picture of what is going on. Speed read it. The win isn’t details, it’s the big picture. If something catches your attention, flag it to study later. In hitting the New Testament I suggest this order: Matthew, Hebrews, Galatians, Revelation, and then the rest in order. Coming fresh off the Old Testament, those books in the New Testament will make a TON more sense. But first, pray and tell God that you’re going to listen and keep you mouth shut. Bible reading is ultimately about listening to God. For me, the process took about 6-8 hours of 216ish pages a day.

Random thoughts
Reading from beginning to end is interesting. Genesis carries a lot more weight than we realize, as do the first five books. God’s standard is perfection in every sense of that term. This is massive when suddenly in the New Testament Jesus touches people who were forbidden in the temple. The prophets will depress you. Even heroic moments ultimately become let downs. But before that lets you down, there are the writings. Those books show how things can be done. Psalms is a pain to read. Great content, but repetition of various phrases make it challenging reading. The Gospels are a breath of fresh air! The New Testament carries common themes from the Old, but Jesus gives TONS of up. Things move ahead.

Gratefulness
Reading through the Gospel makes you VERY thankful for the Gospel. Without the Gospel we are very stuck. What is also amazing is how gracious and merciful God is throughout the entire Bible. The mean curmudgeon feeling we associate with God in the Old Testament isn’t there. God is truly the loving father who doesn’t give up on his family, even when his family abuses or takes advantage of him.

Always old
The key message from God nearly always been an old story of hundreds if not thousands of years old. We ask the question of why we should listen to a book that is 2,000 years old. But that comment could easily be made in Noah’s day, Abraham’s, Moses’, Davids, and Jesus’ day. But given this span of time, God’s Word became more and more fulfilled…literally.

You are loved
A repeated phrase throughout the Bible is God’s love endures forever. It is a major theme in the Bible. If God chose to orient himself with humanity through the lens of justice, we would not exist. Instead God chose the lens of grace and mercy. A BIG reason for the chaos we live in now is God wants you to be a part of his family. God willingly endures what he hates to get what he most loves, and that is you. God doesn’t give up on those he loves.

The bottom line:
Take the time to read through the whole Bible as fast as you can. It may seem intimidating, but it is very refreshing. While it will break you, scare you, it will also leave you feeling incredibly loved. Ultimately the Bible is about God revealing himself and being available to us all. Even when we try to run from him.

Hot Stuff: The Song of Songs

Song of songs is an incredibly important and needed book. I believe the book describes a young woman’s process to grown and maturity as she navigates the complexity of love, culture and who she is. The book helps us navigate the unquenchable fire of love.

Song of Songs is an incredibly hard book to interpret. There are many ways to view the book. The common evangelical view is the book is about Solomon and one of his brides.  I struggle accepting that view. Regardless of view, certain things hold true about the book:

1- It celebrates sex and love!
2- It describes sex and love as more than just procreation.
3- It demonstrates a potent respect for the love between a man and a woman.

Regardless of view on the Song, these things stay true. However there are certain things that always bothered me by the popular view that Solomon was the groom.

1- The picture of Solomon does not follow Deuteronomy 17:14-20. I find it a significant contradiction to use Solomon as the standard of romantic love. If anything, the book is a criticism of Solomon and the direction he lead Israel. The Bible celebrates love between one man and one woman. Solomon started well, but he failed miserably.

2- The book’s plot seems to follow a time-line. The common view that the wedding takes place in chapter 3 doesn’t seem to fit with the often repeated phrase “do not wake my love until he pleases.” The plot I would describe as the growth of the bride throughout the book.

3- The Bible celebrates modesty and quietness. There are two distinct descriptions in the book One of natural comparison and one of a flashy more urbanized comparison. The juxtaposition doesn’t seem to be more contrast than analogous. For instance, if Solomon is the groom verse 2:8-9 doesn’t fit well with 3:7. The contrast is too stark- a free running animal followed by a man being carried around.

The best handling of the book I’ve heard is by the late Dr. Colin Smith. He handles the book exceptionally well and gives clear direction on how to use it in our modern culture. Taking the time to listen to them would be fruitful.

Song of Solomon I
http://www.bbc.edu/chapel/archive/20040120_colinsmith.mp3
Song of Solomon II
http://www.bbc.edu/chapel/archive/20040121_colinsmith.mp3
Song of Solomon III
http://www.bbc.edu/chapel/archive/20040122_colinsmith.mp3

The Bottom line: Study the book, its part of the Bible and a helpful part on that!

Not Perfect is a Holy Thing: Moses

Person: Moses
Epic Fail: Anger and frustration
God’s View: One of the greatest prophets

Ever avoid getting involved because you’re angry or frustrated? STOP! Moses had numerous occasions whereby he got frustrated and angry. He even failed in this area. God still used him! Moses was an imperfectly HUGE hero in the Bible. While anger and frustration may be a weak area, perhaps you should pursue God and overcome these struggles.

God’s Man
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt ; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king ; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land ; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
~Hebrews 11:24-29 NASB

Moses’ Failure
The story of Moses did not go as smoothly as mentioned in Hebrews 11. He took matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian, causing him to have to flee. While this may not be the best way of handling his situation, look at how God viewed it. Even in failures or when we do things wrong there can be glimmers of faith.

Moses did not view himself as a good communicator. So, God gave him Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece. This lead to some problems down the road. Still, Moses lead the people out of Israel. There were multiple occasions that lead to anger and frustration for Moses. In one instance, he struck a rock out of frustration rather than following the instructions God gave him. This failure kept Moses from entering the promised land.

God’s final view
God describes Moses as a man of faith. Moses wrote the 5 most critical books of the Bible, the Torah, by which all other books point and connect to. He conquered nations, stood for God when all Israel, save a few, looked elsewhere. He saw God. Moses was not a great man because he lacked faults, was perfect, or in him was no sin. Moses became a great man because he pursued God.

Yes, Moses had to face consequences for his sin, but its not the sin that God brings up, its the acts of his faith. Here is the key to God’s grace and forgiveness- it wipes away all sin! While there may be consequences to sin here on Earth, the failure of sin is not the final word on our lives! Out of the trials and failures that Moses, and ourselves, face on Earth will be written the strengths of our faith and the grace God granted to us.